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It's A Small Net After All

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Okay, maybe not that small...

Even though the Internet has technically (kinda, sorta) existed since the 1960s, not everyone foresaw the impact it would have. And writers still seem to have trouble getting their heads around it.

One result is that it is totally absent from many shows set 20 Minutes into the Future.

Another is that TV shows never seem to really grasp just how big the Internet is.

One example of this is that Google (or more likely Bing, or Finder-Spyder) comes off as an Omniscient Database: on the first try with a search engine, you will either get all the relevant documents and no irrelevant ones, or you will get a canonical response that the thing you're looking for does not exist on the Internet. Never has someone typed something in and gotten ten billion mostly irrelevant hits (well, almost never — see examples). And one false click never buries you in a quicksand pit of porn popups.

Another is that there is exactly one instant messaging service. And everyone is a subscriber. And everyone knows everyone else's handle. You can message anyone you want at any time without having to sign up for a new service or even search for their screen name.

And speaking of screen names, everyone gets something short, pithy, relevant, and unique. No one is ever "JAnderson789" or "buffyfan2001". Even if you want a short, really hip handle, it will be available as if it were reserved for you. And no one names themselves after characters from other TV shows. Also, everyone has exactly one online identity, which is their email address, instant messaging handle, their handle on every bulletin board, the underground identity by which they're known in the illegal hacking community, and the name they use on Usenet (caveat: Usenet never actually exists on TV, except for alt.nerd.obsessive. Or You'll never run into someone who uses the same handle as you on a different service (There is, after all, only the one service. In TV Land, AOL is, as they claim, the Internet). Email addresses rarely include a domain name.

Compare Acquainted in Real Life, a "small net" may be the reason these two people find each other again online.

The inversion is Unfortunate Search Results, when a person tries to search for something on the Internet only to come up with... something different.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Invoked but averted in Azumanga Daioh: Late in the series, Sakaki types in a search engine "cats", a super-generic search term, and gets thousands and thousands of random matches. When she types "Iriomote cat", one of the very first matches is a news article about an Iriomote mountain cat that died after getting run over by a car, which happens to be plot-relevant, as the cat seems to be the mother of an Iriomote kitten she met earlier. But the Iriomote cat is a highly-endangered and protected species in Japan, with a wild population of under 100, so a news item about such a rare animal being killed by a car would likely rank highly in most search engines as a leading news story.
  • Apparently played straight in episode 4 of A Certain Scientific Railgun, where some characters look up the urban legend of "The Undressing Woman" on the internet. Immediately they found several websites dedicated to the myth, but there's no mention of any other sites. However, closer inspection makes it clear that Saten doesn't just google the term, but writes in on the search bar of some web forum focusing on urban legends and conspiracy theories. Those would be less likely to show outright porn on the subject matter.
  • In Chobits (set 20 Minutes into the Future) a character has the username "M" which he apparently uses for everything online. That implies a small Internet indeed. Chobits also has a technical example where the protagonists visit a video platform and download a video about an incident that occurred fairly recently — it's basically a point-and-done matter because finding said video and downloading it was finished in barely 10 seconds. Turns out the incredible download speed happened because the house was wired with military-grade technology which allows truly insane leaps.
  • Midori Days has, in one chapter, Seiji trying to learn how to use the internet with Midori's help. So they try a search engine. Seiji tries looking for porn right away. Later, Midori decides to look up her own name and is surprised when she finds a search result. Try Googling your first name. You'll find a result, almost guaranteed. Though it does become justified in their surprise when that website is dedicated to the actual Midori. In fact there were a huge amount of hits, which makes sense since "midori" is Japanese for "green" and she says as much, they only clicked that one because it said net idol Midori.
  • Subverted in Puni Puni☆Poemi. Aliens trying to use the internet to learn about humanity find nothing but porn. And they're completely fascinated by it too. But given aliens' normal activities, that's not too surprising.
  • Recovery of an MMO Junkie uses this a good deal as part of the Contrived Coincidences that make the story run. Protagonist Moriko gets into a new MMORPG, befriends a healer named Lily, and ends up joining her guild. Not only do both Lily and guild leader Kanbe's players live in the same city, but they've met in person without realizing it: Kanbe's player is the college student who works part-time at Moriko's favorite convenience store, while Lily's player is Yuta Sakurai, the office worker for whom Moriko starts falling. And even earlier than that, Moriko and Sakurai were best friends in another MMO, which Sakurai realizes when Moriko makes an alt based on her character from the older game.

    Comic Books 
  • Final Crisis: It takes Oracle a series of keystrokes to shut down the Internet.
  • Gold Digger: Played with in one issue when Charlotte the harpy inadvertently slows a fully-fledged comic book supercomputer down to a crawl by naively trying to "download the internet".
  • Spider-Man:
    • In The Amazing Spider-Man (J. Michael Straczynski), when Peter Parker reveals his identity to the world, the ensuing amount of people googling "Peter Parker" brought down the entire Internet. Yes, even the porn sites.
    • Miles Morales fights some guys with special uniforms. Ganke tracks them by searching in the black market that sells those uniforms. And yes, it has a web page. Villains buy things on the internet, too.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Dilbert strip features this trope in-universe, where the Pointy-Haired Boss asks Dilbert to bring him a hard copy of the internet so he can "do some serious surfing". This proves to be the last straw for Dilbert's motivation, and he collapses.
  • Parodied in Pearls Before Swine. The alligator first hears about the zebra's new ally, Google. Enter a storyline where all the gators try to kill Google.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Carrie subverts this. When Carrie does a search for "miracles" so that she could learn about her psychic powers, she has to dig through a bunch of results that have nothing to do with what she's looking for (including a site advertising "miracle underwear"). Still, she's able to find the information she needs without having to go to the second page.
  • Subverted in Catwoman, of all places. When Halle Berry looks up "cats" on Google, she gets a ton of irrelevant hits of little old ladies dressing their pet cats in ridiculous costumes. She then tries the more specific search "cat worship"; although this does cue a creepy plot-relevant montage of cat cults throughout history, the images she gets are believably of the sort you'd expect to get if you tried to search that on Google.
  • The sequel Day Watch does avert this trope when dealing with computers. Big Bad Zavulon's MSN Messenger handle is "", with a number, and his username is "Z@vulon", with a symbol unusual for fictional usernames.
  • In the movie EuroTrip, the main character's email address is blocked by his German pen pal after he sends her an insulting message while drunk. Rather than do the unthinkable and simply open a new email address, he reacts in the most logical manner: he hitches a flight to Europe with his stoner buddy in hopes of getting to Berlin and telling her in person that he's sorry.
  • Final Destination:
    • In Final Destination 2, a character uses a generic search engine to search for "Flight 180", the doomed flight from the first film and instantly finds what he's looking for. A bit justified, as it is established in the movie that the events of the first movie are well known in the movie world, though usually dismissed as an urban legend. A scene where a character finds directions to an insane asylum with a Google maps stand-in without typing in her location might appear egregious unless the location is all cookied up. First hit on Google for "Flight 180" is a link to the Final Destination Wiki, so even in the real world, it works.
    • In Final Destination 3, one of the characters says he did some searching on the Internet. The search isn't actually shown, probably due to the fact that the character wasn't actually looking up Flight 180, but rather "premonitions." It actually wouldn't be very surprising, given that the events of the first movie are so well known in the world of Final Destination, if there was a Wikipedia article on it, which Google would place up the top of a "Flight 180" search.
  • In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide to the Internet, Lisa and Andrew are shocked they can e-mail Bill Clinton, the sitting president in 1997.
  • In the movie Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt does an Internet search (which appears to be a Usenet search) for "Job", as in the Biblical character. This turns up nothing. He then modifies the search to "Book of Job", and finds what he was looking for. It would have been considerably more accurate and amusing if his first search, instead of turning up nothing, had come up with hundreds of thousands of listings submitted by employment agencies and resume services.
  • Subverted in Scary Movie 3. When Cindy is searching the internet for information on a plot-relevant location, the audience sees her face express fear and horror as a creepy melody plays in the background. Naturally everyone assumes she has found the information... until the camera shows the screen, revealing that her "horror" comes from the fact that popups are spawning faster than she can click them away.
  • Averted in Self/Less. When Damien Googles the term "shedding", we are shown the related search terms and he has to narrow it down to "shedding medical" before he gets a relevant hit. He's also shown taking several goes to refine a Google Image search to find what he wants and when Googling for information on "shedding medication", he gets hits for pet shedding.
  • Transformers: Averted, Sam Witwicky's eBay handle is LadiesMan217.
  • Twilight has Bella Google the term "cold ones" (another word for vampires) and not only instantly find the information she needs, but, as CinemaSins pointed out, not get inundated with the wealth of beer ads that you would expect if you entered that into Google.
  • Early in the film Wanted (and also in one of its trailers), James McAvoy's character Googles himself (without quotation marks!), and, in an illustration of how insignificant his life is, no results are returned. So apparently no pages on the in-film Internet contain either the words "Wesley" or "Gibson"... However, before the character in question takes a level in badass, his own daydreams insult him; for example, when he checks his bank balance at an ATM, the machine itself calls him a loser via its text display. The terribly demoralizing Google search could just be another instance of this.

  • Averted in Always Coming Home, a 1985 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. It already predicts the difficulties of searching a planet-(and beyond)-wide database.
  • The MacGuffin in Count Zero, the conclusion of William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, is an "Aleph": a portable gray box containing a duplicate of the entire contents of cyberspace.
  • In Ender's Game, Peter Wiggin eventually becomes the supreme ruler of humanity, because of his ... political blogging skills. Also, his sister is later declared a traitor for revealing secret military plans in her blog. Wouldn't it be easier to just claim that she's a Conspiracy Theorist?
  • Scarlett Thomas's The End of Mr. Y had this as a minor plot point: When Ariel Manto bought the box full of books, the salesperson blogged about her. This posting is immediately indexed by a search engine and used by the antagonists to locate her. Also the amount of hits for the title of the book is strangely low and irrelevant links seem to be missing.
  • Gamer Girl features an MMORPG version: Maddy takes an interest in a game called Fields of Fantasy and begins playing it to seek solace from her real-life problems. She makes friends with a fellow gamer called Sir Leo. Keep in mind, this is a worldwide game, meaning that Sir Leo could hypothetically be one of several billion people: It turns out that they not only live in the same town but that he's the guy she has a schoolgirl crush on.
  • In Hush, Hush, Nora searches for "fallen angels" and not only finds an informative site right off the bat but finds that it also contains plot-convenient information on Nephilim. Subverted in Crescendo, when Nora searches for "Black Hand" to see if there's any indication that it's some sort of underground organization and finds a lot of irrelevant hits (roleplaying, the group that assassinated Archduke Ferdinand, etc.)
  • In one of the books based on the Purple Moon series, Mavis' Internet buddy who "lives in Chicago" is actually one of her classmates. When she learns about this, she refuses to believe it. However, nobody's email address is short or interesting... but in The '90s, they were supposed to be random words slightly connected to the character and accompanied by numbers.
  • Star Wars: Tash Arranda in Galaxy of Fear spends a lot of time on a computer connected to the Holonet, basically the Galaxy's Internet. She messages back and forth with someone whose handle is ForceFlow, and her handle is Seeker. Star Wars has thousands of technologically advanced planets, trillions of people with Holonet access. ForceFlow is also the only online source Tash can find for stories about the Jedi Knights she so idolizes, but that might be more understandable — the Holonet is controlled and regulated by The Empire, which doesn't want people knowing much about the Jedi. In a later book, her username is amended to be Searcher 1. Somewhat appallingly, in Spore Tash connects and the book implies there is one message board/chatroom — and no one else is just faffing around looking for someone to talk to.
    Most people used it to do research. Tash used it to chat with anyone else who was as bored and lonely as she was.
    But no one answered.
  • Justified in Joe Kimball's Timecaster. Storage has become so compact and so inexpensive that every new digital tablet comes with the whole of recorded human knowledge preloaded; only new publications need to be purchased. The actual Internet has dwindled into a cesspool of vandalism, malware, and misinformation, and is frequented only by hobbyists. It's still an example of the trope since accessing information is far from the Internet's only function, so making that part redundant still wouldn't cause it to get abandoned.
  • The first example is subverted in Twilight, where Bella mentions that she had to go through pages and pages of search results for vampire-related books and movies before finding any actual lore on vampires. Ironically, this is going too far in the other direction; a simple Google search shows that the first page of results has plenty of links to information on vampire mythology (including, most obviously, the Wikipedia page in the first result). Reasoning with Vampires, of course, had fun with this. Then played straight when she's easily able to find information on human/vampire hybrids, which you'd think would just get her a bunch of Spuffy fic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Arrested Development shows a Google search for "Sacremende" generating no results, not even a typo. Careful examination of the frame reveals an unprintable character inserted after the word to force this result.
  • Averted in the Bag of Bones miniseries when Mike Noonan does a search for "dark score crazy" and returns at least one page of irrelevant results.
  • In the Boston Legal episode "BL-Los Angeles", Alan Shore was arguing to a jury that a client (a recent participant on a small-time "reality TV" show, played by Jeri Ryan) was unreasonably harassed by paparazzi who could track her every move via people reporting "sightings" of her on the internet. In his arguments, he shared personal details of various jurors and court personnel, which he said he gleaned from simple searches on them on the internet—and the jurors were visibly shocked at how much information could be had by any stranger who knew their name and the general area where they lived.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Averted a couple of times. (No way to know whether this was an accurate number at the time, but it's sure as hell a lot bigger now.)
      Buffy: Maybe The First isn't ready for modern technology. [Googles "evil"] "Displaying results 1 through 10 of 900,517." OK, I gotta narrow this down. I'll call you back.
    • Played straight in the first-season episode "I Robot, You Jane", when Buffy consults a computer geek who informs her that anytime you have an e-mail address to start from, "you can pull up someone's profile based on their user name". Although this may have been slightly more likely to be true in 1997 than it is today.
  • One episode of the The Colbert Report has Stephen state that he prints out all of Wikipedia every week. He produced a large stack of papers and while he said this was only part of what he had printed out, considering the Wikipedia entries on Marvel and DC comics characters alone, they appeared to severely underestimate how many pages Wikipedia would take up. As of mid-2017, [1] English Wikipedia has over 42 million pages.
  • An episode of CSI: Miami, "Urban Hellraisers", had a rare example of this that inconveniences the characters: the team is unable to get the details of the plot of a GTA clone from its developer, and therefore has to resort to playing the game themselves to work out the storyline that a group of criminals is re-enacting. It seems that walkthrough sites don't exist on the CSI-universe Internet. Similarly, there's no such thing as a Save Point or Checkpoint, since they had to start the game over from the beginning every time they lost.
  • Defying Gravity: One of the astronauts explains how they've fit hundreds of movies and YouTube into their computer's databank. Yes, all of YouTube.
  • Averted on Desperate Housewives, where a suspicious Edie has difficulty finding any information on the season's Big Bad due to him having the very generic name Dave Williams.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Rose", the first episode of the revival, averts this to some extent — when she searches the for "The Doctor", of course all it brings up are medical sites. ("Doctor blue box" is apparently specific enough, though.) This search in real life will result in results for the series. (Incidentally, as of 2016, the first result on Google for a search regarding "The Doctor" brings up Wikipedia's page on Doctor Who and four out of the top ten results are related to the series.) Appropriately, if you did type "Doctor Blue Box" into google at the time, then the first result was the official defictionalized version of Clive's "Who is Doctor Who?" website, before The BBC dropped all its in-Whoniverse websites.
    • In the same season, a Dalek, in the span of about two minutes at most, downloads the entire internet through a single computer monitor it just smashed its plunger into. Equally implausibly, it drains power from the entire West Coast of the United States through that same broken monitor. There's also the assumption that Everything Is Online, since the Dalek uses the lack of any information on Daleks as proof that its people are gone.
  • In the Mexican comedy La Familia P. Luche, married couple Ludovico and Federica independently decide to try out online dating. They both wind up on the same site, with screen names "MáquinaDelFuegonote " and "Golosanote 69", and of course start chatting with each other within minutes of signing up.
  • Hot Line (a softcore series from the '90s) has an episode about two coworkers who exchange erotic text emails without knowing each other's real identity. They finally agree upon a Real Life Meeting, get an Elevator Failure situation along the way, then one of them lets slip some sentence from the chat, and...well, they get out of the fixed elevator in a considerably better mood than one would expect.
  • How I Met Your Mother pushes this a bit, with websites and domain names set up with apparent ease. A timer-based countdown to a date isn't so implausible, even if the characters haven't mentioned any specific knowledge of how computers work, but setting up an online shop overnight seems a little bit dodgy.
  • In Hustle, Ash is able to set up professional-looking websites for fake companies in a matter of hours. Possibly justified as this is his job as the team's fixer, and he probably keeps a few dummy sites operating at all times that he can quickly customize. However, in "Gold Mine", he is seemingly able to get a site up and running in the time it takes Danny to spin the tale to the mark. And he always manages to get the sites to show up near the top of any mark's search page.
  • In a hilariously ridiculous example from iCarly, Freddy, Carly, and Sam look up "chicks" (as in baby chickens) on the Internet. Everyone watching probably knew that anyone searching for chicks on Google probably... wouldn't find baby chickens on the first page, let alone the first slot. Made even more hilarious by the fact the site they go to is called, a giant website all about baby chicks. And that's not even getting into the numbers of hits and comments (none of which seem to be "OMG U SUXORZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" or requests to put shoes on their head) their webcast gets.
  • Also parodied on The IT Crowd, where Roy and Moss convince Jen that the entire Internet is contained in a small black box that is usually guarded by "The Elders Of The Internet" atop Big Ben. They do this so that Jen will humiliate herself during a speech to the company shareholders, but are horrified when everyone at the meeting believes what she's saying is true...and then pleased again when the "Internet" is destroyed, and pandemonium breaks out.
  • Despite how unpopular and unsuccessful the gang of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is, whenever they do something on the internet, be it uploading a YouTube series, starting a Facebook page for their bar, or simply playing an online game, somehow people in the immediate area will always immediately take notice and recognize them for it in meatspace. Presumably, nothing else is happening on the internet at the time.
  • Joan of Arcadia: Luke's handle is "gravity_boy", a rare example of an underscore on TV.
  • Law & Order tended to zigzag this, sometimes averting it and other times playing it straight, which is understandable since that show was on the air when the public Internet was new and scriptwriters had no more idea of its powers and limitations than anyone else did.
    • An example of "playing it straight": in an early episode, detectives discover the identity of a hacker because his screen name is "SlapShot" and the suspect is an NY Rangers hockey fan. Apparently, only one hockey fan in all of Manhattan had a computer with Internet access (no jokes about the actual number of hockey fans in Manhattan or in the American general public, please).
    • An aversion: in a much later episode, a company that used the Internet to gather information on people did exactly that for a client who later murdered the woman he asked the company to find. DA Jack McCoy goes after the company on the grounds that they were negligent by not checking out the client's background - if they had, they would have discovered his criminal record. To prove his point, McCoy uses a competitor company to dig up emails that showed the company's CEO knew the risks of his carelessness and decided to bury it.
  • In a Law & Order: SVU episode, two detectives — and later, their captain — play a game enjoyed by a reclusive child who is also a murder suspect.
  • Averted in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, where the character Craig spends most of his screentime filtering through results he got when searching for "baby". Apparently, he came across more than one fetish site.
  • Averted in My Family. Ben wants to look up another dentist's homepage, using the search term "oral". The results are predictable.
  • In one scene from NUMB3RS, the investigators set an alarm to trigger whenever someone logs onto IRC as "The_Fist" or "Oozemeister". Apparently, there's only one IRC server in the world, and handles are never shared or changed.
  • On The Norm Show, office manager Mr. Denby gets angry at the staff for posting stuff on the Internet. When he demands to have the Internet given to him, the IT guy sheepishly hands him a 3.5" floppy diskette. Denby holds it up proudly and says no one can have the Internet back until they learn to use it better.
  • Psych:
    • In one episode, known for eye-line matches to objects that glow when fake-psychic Shawn looks at them, Shawn deduces that the murder victim was secretly a well-known online comic book critic by noticing random, non-consecutive letters in the blogger's screen name.
    • In another episode, Gus recognizes a missing poker player's screen name from an online poker site because he, too, plays online poker. Apparently, there is only one online poker site in existence, and it's small enough that someone would recognize the name of another random player.
    • In another episode, Gus Googles the name of a park and gets zero results. Shawn suggests he adds "ing", and they get info on a parking lot with that name.
  • The show Sherlock has a fictional tie-in blog by John Watson. Its entries never get more than a two-digit number of comments, despite the fact that the blog is supposedly popular enough to bring in new clients, and attract internet trolls during the time Sherlock's reputation is tarnished. One episode does point out that the counter is stuck, so it's possible the site is buggy.
  • So Weird: Fiona's handle is "Rockerbaby" (she's the daughter of two rock stars).
  • Parodied on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! with "The Innernette", which is contained on one CD-ROM. Marketed as a safer alternative to the real Internet, since your computer isn't actually connected to anything. It includes an "online retailer" that requires a fax machine and a "chat room" with some extremely dense "A.I.s":
    Prof. Hinsley: FINE
    Tim: LOL. WHAT'S UP?
    Prof. Hinsley: FINE
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Hathor", Carter is able to quickly track down details about Hathor's true nature online despite little experience with any kind of mythology and the very unreliable nature of non-scholarly websites when it comes to mythology. For this kind of task, Daniel would have been the perfect match.
  • Torchwood already features a lot of Hollywood Hacking, but notably has one very silly example in the middle of an otherwise extremely serious and tense encounter with a demon:
    Ianto: I've searched for "I shall roam the Earth and my hunger shall know no bounds" but I keep getting redirected to Weight Watchers.
  • War of the Worlds: Kinkaid's handle is "Rogue". Other people on the network are "Lonelyheart" and "Ace". The Internet has a total population of about six.
  • The West Wing: When Josh posted to, no one stopped to consider the possibility that anyone other than the real White House Deputy Chief of Staff would post under his name. Granted, the whole affair was based on what happened to Aaron Sorkin when he posted to the forums on Television Without Pity...

  • Yureka: Mostly averted, except all the major gamers of Lost Saga seem to live within driving distance of each other. Somewhat justified because the Net hasn't spread outside Korea, but still...

    Video Games 
  • Justified in Cyberpunk 2077, in keeping with its Cassette Futurism aesthetic. The internet as we know it was destroyed in the Corporate Wars as increasingly sophisticated viruses rendered it inoperable, and the Night City web you get to explore in-game is limited to just a small, carefully curated handful of sites that are closed off from the broader Net to prevent computers that access them (which, in this game, include your cybernetic implants) from being rendered inoperable or worse. Some characters read darker motives into this, suggesting that the fragmentation of the Net was done in order to censor it and exercise social control.
  • Front Mission 3's in-game internet, one of the first examples, is expansive enough to cover much of the setting's relevant information, including history dating back to the early 21st century. However, you can't type in links manually and must receive them instead, resulting in this trope initially.
  • The settings of the Grand Theft Auto games are scaled-down versions of real-world locales, and starting with GTA IV, that includes the in-game internet, featuring parodies of numerous real-world websites. While most of these sites are surprisingly in-depth and can be fully explored (and, in the fifth game, offer useful services on top of it), it's limited to just a particular selection of sites.
  • Though Hypnospace Outlaw centers around a very realistic alternet with hundreds of unique pages, that still pales in comparison to the real-world Internet even in the game's setting of 1999. It's justified by your occupation as a Hypnospace Enforcer, as you only have access to assigned "zones" representing a small portion of Hypnospace's true size.
  • In Persona 3, according to Fuuka, it turns out Strega's Jin uses the screen name... "Jin".
  • The hyper-futuristic setting of Ripper features a network of hyper-advanced virtual reality wells... consisting of about a dozen possible places where you can go, including a public library, and half of them are personal storage wells.
  • The SNES version of Shadowrun pre-dates wireless networking, but apparently not Minesweeper, hence the maze-like minigames.
  • YIIKA Postmodern RPG has an internet that consists only of e-mail and a conspiracy theory website where the main character chats with other people about things taking place in-universe.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted in Chaos;Head when Takumi tries looking up NOZOMI and reasonably enough gets tons of useless results since, for all he knows, it could merely be the nurse's first name.
  • This trope is justified in Emily Is Away and Digital: A Love Story, seeing as they're both set in time periods when the Internet was only beginning to expand. (Emily takes place through an early-2000s instant messaging client, while Digital occurs "five minutes into the future of 1988" through BBS forums.)

    Web Animation 
  • In Season 6 of Red vs. Blue, Sarge demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of how computers actually work.
    Sarge: If this is Command, then these computers probably have one of them Internets installed on 'em...
    Simmons: There's just one Internet, sir. And I don't think it's located inside this building.

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja parodies this. In an apocalyptic future, King Radical somehow prints out the entire Internet and builds a library of its contents. One shelf is just a small subset of a particular user's ramblings about Transformers. The impossibly large space needed for such a library is completely ignored, though there's a rope-swinging robot refrigerator named Google that helps people find things.
  • Questionable Content:
    • Played straight, but mockingly:
      Dora: I'm gonna do some detective work.
      Faye: What, you're just gonna google "crazy chick on a vespa" and see what comes up?
      Marten: The internet knows everything. It's like Kim Peek, only rude and obsessed with pornography.
    • Hannelore finds and downloads all the cute animal pictures on the Internet. By hand, in just a few days, and onto a single computer, from the sound of it. The bounty from Cute Overload alone would probably fill up her hard drive... Then again, considering what her father does for a living, it's entirely possible she has a hard drive far larger than anything commercially available.
  • In the Sluggy Freelance mini-arc "Interweb with the Vampire" the fictional email/instant message service Grab-All plays this trope big time. Aside from Torg and Sam having the screen names "Torg" and "Sam", Grab-All's search engine is a little... extensive.
    Sam: Not just mail [...] you can keep your passwords, private documents, financial information, medical records, and skeletons-in-your-closet all in one handy location accessible from any online computer!
  • In xkcd #908, "the Cloud" (yes, all of it) is in a little server in Black Hat's room, which is connected over a cable modem. Apparently there's a lot of caching.

    Web Original 
  • Pointedly averted in Another Kingdom (eventually printed in book form). The protagonist wants to find out more about the fantasy land he was briefly transported to, Galiana, so he Googles it and gets over a million hits, as it's a first name, a last name, and a place name. He does find the right information in a disambiguation page on Wikipedia, it being from a novel, but there's no article so he has to check it out on Amazon.
  • Played with by the SCP Foundation's SCP-335: The entire Internet on 150 floppy discs. How this fit on there is unknown, which is why the Foundation is interested in the discs in the first place. It mentions in the SCP file that the disks have an infinite amount of available storage space and that they can automatically update their contents whenever the actual site changes. Also, note that the first dozen disks or so contain all the porn on The Internet.
  • Inverted in the Das Sporking dissection of the Twilight FAQ. The sporkers, Das_Mervin and Ket Makura, are baffled over the fact that Stephenie Meyer seems unable to figure out how to navigate the internet to find several pictures (despite having plenty of information on how to find them) and seems to consider it a marvelous feat that anyone did find them.
    Mervin: [rubs her forehead] She acts like she doesn't even realize how easy it is to find stuff on the internet when you have the date the photos were taken and very exact descriptions.
    Ket: "I don't know how she found them — must be magic!"
    Mervin: Oh, by the way, Meyer — where is the credit towards that site? And there's another reason I think you were just lazy and didn't want to pull up the dresses again — you didn't FAVORITE the site? It was a source, no matter how insignificant...
    Ket: It was in the same place as her backup.
    Mervin: That's it! She didn't back up the Internet! You are supposed to store the Internet on a floppy, Meyer, don't you know that?

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • Parodied in an episode:
      Professor Farnsworth: Shut up, friends! My Internet browser heard us saying the word "Fry" and it found a movie about Philip J. Fry for us. It also opened my calendar to Friday and ordered me some French fries.
    • Also averted in the episode where they enter the internet in VR, and it's a huge, sprawling Wretched Hive of porn and mediocrity. Although kind of played straight in there being apparently only two sex chat rooms...
  • When the Kim Possible villains Shego and Señor Senior Jr. searched for something really valuable and heavily guarded, Junior suggested that they would search the Internet for the words "really valuable" and "heavily guarded." It worked. For Ron, too.
  • Parodied on Minoriteam, when the Big Bad attempts to discover the heroes' secret identities by simply typing "Secret Identities" into an Internet search engine. It would have worked, if not for Explosive Overclocking. (An actual Google search for "secret identities" returns the Wikipedia article on the concept, which links to a ridiculously complete list of DC Comics secret identities, as its first result. Other results are links to less complete lists from other universes.)
  • Subverted by the PVP animated series when the first page of search engine results for "sky" are (as they had hoped) sites about naked women skydiving.
  • Played for Laughs in the South Park episode "Over Logging", in which the Internet is threatened by overuse — and is revealed to consist of a single gigantic router. And the problem stems from nobody knowing that the router needs to be occasionally rebooted.
  • In one "Red Sky" episode of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, April does a quick Internet search for Landor and Merrik, two time-travelling allies from twenty years into the future, and finds that their present-day counterparts are a couple of local kids. Somehow she does this with just their first names and no other info—although the names "Landor" and "Merrik" ARE a bit unusual...
  • Hit by The Venture Brothers in the season three episode "ORB", when trying to decipher a riddle written about a century ago. Pete White, computer expert and probably half-Author Avatar, just googles the clues, quickly determining that "Minuit's Bargain" is New York City. After commenting on how the poor chump who came up with the riddle never would've expected them to have the Internet, he proceeds to derail the plan assuming "The house that Coke built" was Studio 54 (it meant coke the coal byproduct, not cocaine).

    Real Life 
  • The concept of a "walled garden", where users are forced to stay within a service provider's offerings. AOL in the '90s is a good example, as well as Apple's and Google's mobile app stores. Facebook is also commonly cited as a modern example.
  • Quite literally when you look at maps of the ARPANET, the technical predecessor to the Internet. At its apex, it had a couple hundred nodes. The modern commercial Internet has billions.
  • According to The Other Wiki, the entirety of North Korea's Internet consists of an estimated 30 public-facing websites, mostly consisting of propaganda, research, and foreign relations websites. With the nation's strict control of the media, it's probably safe to say everything in this trope page's opener is played straight for anyone that has access to the Internet.

Alternative Title(s): Plot Convenience Dot Com